A Speck of Coal Dust – Rohit Manchanda


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First published in 1996 as In the Light of the Black Sun and long unavailable, Rohit Manchanda’s debut novel, A Speck of Coal Dust, is one of the finest coming-of-age narratives in Indian-English writing and a forgotten classic.

Set in the coal-mining regions of eastern India, this exquisitely crafted work follows Vipul, the eleven-year-old son of a mine manager, as he awakens to the mysteries of life in a backwater town marooned in time. He finds in his environs much to marvel at, to dread, to love and to cherish, while a motley cast of characters – oddball friends, capricious teachers, a comics-loving swami, missionaries, and tinpot rogues – floats into and out of his life.

Here, Vipul’s eyes are opened to the smallness, and at once the grandeur, of the arena he inhabits and its place in the larger world, even as he learns his early lessons of cruelty and kindness, the glories and severities of nature, and sensual stirrings laced with guilt…


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